Gary Rowell column - Losing 8-0 still haunts me 30 years on

Gary Rowell
Gary Rowell
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EVERY professional who has ever played the game, has had a result like Saturday at some time in their career.

It’s humiliating and embarrassing and all you can do is keep your head down, don’t make any excuses and take the inevitable criticism which is going to come your way on the chin.

Sunderland have lost by big margins before and it will happen again, but what you can’t do is let it destroy your season.

Sunderland lost by eight goals to West Ham in the 60s and again in the 80s to Watford – a game I remember well, as unfortunately I played in it – and have lost by five, six and seven goal margins plenty of times down the years.

The game against Watford is a result that even 30 years on still haunts me.

Watford were a top team then with John Barnes, Luther Blissett and Nigel Callaghan, but it was just one of those days where everything went wrong.

It’s embarrassing when you think back to it. But it’s all about the response and we won the next game 4-1.

If the fans see that and see that they’re hurting, they will get behind them.

This won’t go away within days. You always look at your career and the good stuff, but it stays in the back of your mind.

It’s all about character now, the players will be hurting – or at least they should be – but they have got to find the mental strength to deal with it and turn things around.

The big danger when you suffer a humiliating defeat is that it fractures the dressing room, as the last thing you need is players arguing amongst themselves or blaming each other. That will only damage team spirit and morale and make a bad situation even worse.

At the moment, everything seems bleak and the training ground won’t be a happy place this week, but time is a great healer and you can come through dark times. It can only happen with a strong and united dressing room though.